First-Down Foods

First-Down FoodsHuddle Up with Friends and Tackle Some Game-day Snacks that are Sure to Score

By Anita Doberman

With the football bowl season in full swing, many people will be breaking out the onion dip and turning on the big-screen TV to host a party. Finger foods are a must for such occasions.

Easy and informal, they are a hit with most adults and children. Nachos, chips, chicken wings, hot dogs, miniature quiches (you don’t have to tell them it’s quiche) and other easy-to-eat dishes are convenient to prepare and serve, and they always leave guests satisfied.

For a bowl party, you often will have a mix of people in attendance. Perhaps the sports enthusiast has brought over his wife (or husband), who doesn’t care much for the game, except for the halftime show and the commercials. Then there are the kids, who are running around wildly trying to chase the cat and don’t understand why you won’t let them watch “SpongeBob SquarePants.” But all types of partygoers share one characteristic: They want food.

Finger food can be the main course – no need to get more complicated if you don’t want to. But either way, the food and the ambience are one and the same.

“The food should carry the theme,” said Gino Chance, manager of Buster’s Oyster Bar and Grill in Miramar Beach.

“People enjoy all kinds of wings, barbecue, buffalo chicken fingers and, of course, all kinds of beer,” he said.

Kick it Off Right
Chance stressed that the quantity of food is crucial for a sports event. As opposed to other kinds of food, or parties where guests might eat daintily, guests generally can be counted on to eat plenty of finger food while watching a game.

Wings go quickly, as well as drumsticks, chips and any kind of dip or salsa. When the game gets exciting, people dip in; when it gets slow, they still dip in.

Traditional finger food can be upscale, too.

“Chicken wings, egg rolls and black bean salsa are very big hits for parties,” said Kevin Adair, owner of Gourmet Entrees To Go in Destin. Adair has years of experience in the food and beverage industries and has catered hundreds of successful parties across the Emerald Coast.

Adair said that guests always enjoy a meal of hearty appetizers, but that it’s nice to have a healthy alternative during a party. He recommends fruit and vegetables, which are easy to put together and, with a flavorful dip, will be a success not only among those who are watching their calorie intake but with anyone in attendance – at the very least to cleanse their palates between servings of barbecue sauce.

Finger food is found everywhere – at grocery stores, restaurants and bars – and it can be catered or prepared for any party. Not surprisingly, one of the most popular is wings. There are endless ways to prepare them; you can bake, fry or even chargrill chicken wings. The finger-friendly food also goes with any kind of sauce or dip, such as barbecue sauce, blue cheese, hot sauce or soy sauce. It is easier than ever to find wings and other popular favorites.

Time Out for Planning
Hillary Fosdyck is the founder and owner of Monark Party Planners in Destin, together with Briane Workman, and is an expert in party planning. Fosdyck has years of experience organizing parties and creating just the right atmosphere and food. She has some basic yet important suggestions for football fans planning to create a party.

“A party/event is a great success when your guests walk through the door and immediately feel like a part of the story that is about to unfold, and walk out wanting to share that story with others,” Fosdyck said.

She explained that for a Super Bowl party, a relaxed atmosphere and a wide variety of food are key ingredients for success.

“Provide plenty of comfortable seating with unobstructed views of the television,” Fosdyck said. “Or have multiple televisions with the game on so none of your guests will miss a second.”

It also is key to have finger foods that are easy to eat and fun and that reflect the relaxed atmosphere.

“Colors, shapes of food, unique containers or bowls are all great ways to bring a cohesive feel to your party,” she said.

The ability to move is another important component, Fosdyck said, explaining that if you place the food in different areas, people can mingle and chat while standing around a food area.

“Remember that not all people attending your party will be into the game,” she said. “Have a room set aside for people that aren’t that serious about the game so they can engage in other fun activities or just have a place to talk.”

And if children are attending, a room with games or a place where they can run around will make them happy and allow both parents and children to enjoy the get-together.

The good news is that a football bowl party is about the easiest kind of event to pull off. You already have the entertainment provided and know what everyone likes to eat, so you can’t drop the ball. Fill the cooler, fire up the grill and unpack that new TV – it’s game time!

Fresh Mix Dip – Courtesy of Hillary K. Fosdyck
2 14-ounce cans corn
2 14-ounce cans black beans
2 diced tomatoes
2 peeled and cut avocados
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoon cilantro
Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve with any type of tortilla chip.

Marinated Beef Kabobs – Courtesy of Kevin Adair
1 pound flank steak sliced into
1- to 1½-ounce strips
½ cup teriyaki sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
Skewer beef. Mix sauces together well and marinate skewers for one hour. Grill over medium heat until done. Kabobs also may be baked in an oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Fried Tortilla Hors d’Oeuvres – Courtesy of Kevin Adair
2 flour tortillas cut into 2-inch squares
2 cups vegetable oil
Smoked pork, sliced thin
Beef tenderloin, sliced thin
Smoked tuna dip
Pepper jelly
Red peppers and garlic
Cajun seasoning
Warm oil in a sauce pan. Fry tortillas in the oil until they are crispy – three to four minutes. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Arrange the fried tortillas on a serving tray and top some chips with pork and pepper jelly, some with beef and peppers in garlic, and on remaining tortillas add the smoked tuna dip.